coverage of the jeffrey macdonald murder case

The Fayetteville Observer and The Fayetteville Times have covered the triple murder at 544 Castle Drive since that February morning in 1970 through each of Jeffrey MacDonald’s appeals and parole hearings. Here is a selection of that coverage:

‘Victims of Hippie Cult?’

Officer’s wife, children found slain at Ft. Bragg

This article by Pat Reese originally appeared in the Feb. 17, 1970, edition of The Fayetteville Observer.

An Army doctor’s wife and their two young children were stabbed to death in their Ft. Bragg home early today, apparently murder victims of a “ritualistic” hippie cult.

The doctor, Capt. Jeffrey MacDonald, 26, 6th Special Forces, was reported in satisfactory condition late this morning at Womack Army Hospital where he is being treated for multiple stab wounds.

The victims were identified as MacDonald’s wife, Colette, 26, and the couples’ two daughters, Kimberly, 6, and Kristen Jean, age 2.

Fort Bragg murders: Photos of the Jeffrey MacDonald case

Military authorities said MacDonald told them four people — three men and a woman — burst through the rear door of the home at approximately 4 a.m. chanting “LSD is great, LSD is great” while the family slept.

One of the suspects, a blonde woman wearing a floppy hat and muddy white boots was carrying a candle, according to a report from the investigation officers.

Officers said another suspect was a Negro man wearing a jacket with sergeant stripes on the sleeves. The two other suspects were reportedly white men, they said.

Military police said when they arrived at the couple’s Corregidor Courts home, a six-room, one-story brick structure, they found the front door locked. They went to the rear door, which was open, and entered the home.

[File/The Fayetteville Observer]

They reported finding the two small girls in a bedroom where they had died from stab wounds. One military policeman said furniture in the home had been overturned, indicating a struggle had taken place.

Mrs. MacDonald also was dead from stab wounds in the parents’ bedroom. MacDonald was lying partially conscious next to her. He had managed to reach a telephone to call for help.

MacDonald reportedly contacted the long-distance switchboard from the Carolina Telephone and Telegraph Co. office in Fayetteville and the assistant chief operator, Miss Carolyn Landen, reportedly called police on the basis of the sketchy information he had given her.

Miss Landen could not be reached for comment, and W.D. Daniels, traffic manager for the telephone company, said he had been instructed by the Investigation Division “not to give out any information on that.”

The word “pigs” was printed in blood on the headboard of the bed in the parents’ bedroom, according to officials.

A club and an ice pick were found outside the home but police said they had not determined what part the instruments played in the crime.

First reports indicated the victims had been stabbed “over and over again.”

Roadblocks were set up around the base but the quartet apparently made good their escape. All law enforcement agencies in the area were asked to help. The State Bureau of Investigation was scheduled to enter the investigation late this morning.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and CID from Ft. Bragg were in charge of the search.

MacDonald is a native of Patchogue, N.Y. and has been stationed at Ft. Bragg since last August with the Preventive Medicine Division of the 6th Special Forces. Records indicate his wife was born in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Jeffrey MacDonald, 61, is pictured in the Federal Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md. in 2005. [Michael Williamson/The Washington Post]

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Fayetteville Observer covers the MacDonald murders, trial (part 1)

FROM THE ARCHIVES: The Fayetteville Observer covers the MacDonald murders, trial (part 2)


In 2013, a lawyer for MacDonald filed a memo that new evidence should overturn his conviction.

In March 2014, MacDonald was waiting on U.S. District Judge James C. Fox’s ruling on his request for a new trial.

Fox denied MacDonald’s bid for a new trial in July 2014.

In August 2014, Lawyers for MacDonald cite new evidence while filing another motion for a new trial.

In 2015, a federal judge rejected a request to change the 2014 judgment.

In 2016, it was announced that the case would once again get the television treatment. This time as a made-for-TV movie on the Investigation Discovery channel. The movie would air in December 2017.

In 2017, Jeffrey MacDonald’s case returned to a federal courtroom when his lawyers were arguing that new evidence exonerated their client.

In 2018, a federal appeals court ruled that MacDonald would not get a new trial.

Columnist Bill Kirby has talked to community members and written about the tragedy at 544 Castle Drive throughout the years. Here are some of those stories:


Jeffrey MacDonald and pop culture